Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY

HorseChart Theatre presents Charles Busch Campy Comedy Psycho Beach Party opening June 14th @ The Matrix Theatre

By: Jun. 11, 2024
Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY
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Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY

HorseChart Theatre presents Charles Busch Campy Comedy Psycho Beach Party opening June 21, 2024 (with previews beginning June 19th) at The Matrix Theatre. Ryan Bergmann and Tom Detrinis co-direct the cast of Adrián González, Chase Rosenberg, Daniel Montgomery, Daniele Gaither, Drew Droege, Harrison Meloeny, Karen Maruyama, Michael P. Mcdonald, Pete Zias, Sam Pancake, Thomas Hobson and Roz Hernandez. Ryan found some time from multi-tasking between his Mixed eMotion Theatrix shows and putting the finishing touches to Psycho Beach Party to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Ryan!

You directed a number of Charles Busch shows. Is this the first time for Psycho Beach Party?

This is my first go at Psycho Beach Party. Clearly, I’m a fan of Charles Busch and his numerous works. This earlier piece is a classic and I’ve seen it in many variations through the years and always felt like it was only a matter of time before I sunk my teeth into it. And with this creative team and ridiculously talented cast, it is going to be a ridiculous blast!

What was the impetus for having co-directors, as opposed to just you or Tom Detrinis?

Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY So the wonderful producer, Brett Aune approached me a good while back about directing the project, but I knew that over this particular period I would be a bit overloaded with projects and suggested the glorious Tom Detrinis for the project, whom I’ve worked with as an actor, director and producer. It ended up that Tom was equally as overwhelmed over the same period, BUT as luck would have it, our conflicts were exactly opposite to one another. So, Brett suggested that we might partner on the project and thus the magic was born. Tom and I have a shared vision for the piece, and I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator! His stupid is a perfect match for my own!  Ha! 

What would your three-line pitch for Psycho Beach Party be?

Get ready for a hilariously wild ride with Drew Droege in Charles Busch’s Psycho Beach Party! This uproarious production is a zany mash-up of Gidget's ridiculous sun-soaked beach fun, Mommie Dearest's campy chaos, and John Waters' wickedly off-color charm, all topped off with a sprinkle of Barbie's dollhouse flair. Surf’s up, so brace yourself for a beachside adventure that's equal parts dangerous, absurd, stupid and unforgettable! 

How many of this cast of zany, talented actors have you worked with before?

Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY I have been lucky enough to work with nearly half of this cast before. The talent is through the roof. Getting to have this much funny crammed into one cast is such a gift! It is always a joy when I get to work with a group of actors who are so willing to play and who each bring such a unique bag a tricks to offer up!  

How did you cast this show? Call up actors you and Tom have worked with before? Raid The Groundlings’ main company? Open auditions?

Because of the timing of the production aimed at opening for Pride Month we were concerned about getting the right talent and we have such an over abundance of talented colleagues we felt it best to hand pick the cast. Additionally, it was very important to us to offer up a true representation of the rainbow that is our community and the easiest and quickest way for us to do that was to work with what we know. We couldn’t be luckier!

What gives you greater gratification – putting on a dance piece like Gatsby Redux for your dance company Mixed eMotion Theatrix? Or directing a high-camp piece like Psycho Beach Party or Die Mommie Die? 

Well, this is a very interesting question. I would argue that the two things are so very different for me. With MeMT, as the Executive Director, I play more of a creative producer role rather than a straight on director role. I would consider my Artistic Director, Janet Roston, as the director of the majority of our work as a company because she brings the choreographic magic to the company. While I wish I could dance myself, sadly, that was never in the cards for my two left feet. HA! I absolutely have a lot of creative input for all of our works, but when it comes down to it Janet ultimately takes those creative reigns. So my directorial work outside of the company is a hugely important creative outlet for me. I’m lucky to have the opportunities that I have. I guess they are both very gratifying in their own right, but I must admit, when it is my own work there may be a little extra spark of pride. 

Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY What did you want to be growing up? Dancer? Director? Producer?

I think I, like so many, imagined myself to be an actor growing up. It’s what brought me out to L.A. in the first place. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided I was done with auditioning. While my passion for acting has never truly left me, the willingness to audition and put myself out there like that fell away over time. It was then that I realized, as a director/producer I can grow even more as an artist. I had to get over my own fear of being jealous of my actors, which gratefully, never was an issue. I get such joy creating a work from the ground up. It’s one reason I love working with new projects in development. No one has touched the work before, so everyone walks in with an open mind and no preconceived notions about the material. And when I do work with established material, I very often like to turn it on its head or push the boundaries of the piece. Art is about challenging ourselves and the notions of the world around us.

What idols did you want to emulate?

Oh, wow. I really find most of my inspiration from the talent I surround myself with. I don’t know that I have ever set out to emulate anyone specifically. I decided long ago that a director is only as good as the people they surround themselves with. For me art is about collaborations and discovering the secret magic within each individual ready to be plucked. I would apply that equally to actors as well as designers. Any director who doesn’t acknowledge the mountains of talent and work behind them has missed the mark in my book. 

Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY What’s next for Mixed eMotion Theatrix?

We are about to wrap a mini tour of our Gatsby Redux piece with our last performances of the run at Greystone Mansion this weekend. After that we are deep into the development of a new dance musical called Hans Christian Anderson’s The Shadow, based on his short story of the same name. We’re creating a new musical fairytale that will be told through dance, movement, puppetry, songs and projections. We’re so excited to be partnering with superbly talented puppet designer and director, Janni Younge based in South Africa. It’s an extremely ambitious project that we have been working on for a few years. We’re lucky recipients of a Jim Henson development grant for the project and we’re hoping to get the full piece on its feet by the end of 2025 or beginning or 2026. We have several other upcoming projects as well. You can always learn more on our website, www.memtheatrix.com

What’s next for Ryan Bergmann outside of Mixed eMotion Theatrix?

Interview: Director Ryan Bergmann Finding the Ultimate Stupid in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY I am always on the hunt for new works and new partners to collaborate with. There are currently several irons in the fire and I’m just waiting to see if anything comes from them. It’s been a bit non-stop for a few months now and I’m actually looking forward to taking a few week away from the work to simply visit family.  

Is there a dance piece you’d love to take the producers’s/directors’ reins on?

Honestly, there are a few dance works I’d love to develop based on some favorite albums of creative artists I respect. I feel like the art of creating a full album of music with a personal internal narrative is being lost and I’d like to hold up some beautiful examples of albums that have done that and enrich that story telling with narrative movement. I have several ideas, but we are in communication with some artists and I kind of want to not show my hand here too much before I know that the projects can really happen.

Thank you again, Ryan! I look forward to attending your Psycho Beach Party.

I hope you have a hilarious blast! It’s going to be stupidity at its very best!

For tickets to Psycho Beach Party through July 7, 2024, click on the button below:




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